American People to Auto Dealers – Get a Clue

September 23, 2011 | 5:12 pm
Michelle Robinson
Former Contributor

Increasing the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks is one of the most effective steps we can take to save consumers money at the gas pump, clean up our air, and cut America’s oil dependence. This summer, my colleagues and I were there when the Obama administration announced an historic agreement with major automakers and the State of California to strengthen fuel efficiency and auto pollution standards for new vehicles sold from 2017-2025. In addition to the major automakers, the agreement is supported by the United Auto Workers and numerous consumer, national security, business, and environmental organizations and science-based organizations like UCS.

Yet one national group has spoken out in opposition and is actively lobbying Congress to delay and weaken the standards – the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Here’s what NADA lobbyist Bailey Wood said in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “This is our No. 1 issue and we’re putting the full weight of NADA behind it.”

NADA is trying to sell a lemon to anyone who will listen. Here are three things you should know about NADA’s position:

1. NADA is out of step with the vast majority of Americans. In a recent poll by the Mellman Group, 85% of voters supported setting stronger fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks – support that extends across party affiliation and region of the country. And another poll out this week shows even stronger support from small business owners, reporting 87% support for stronger standards.

2. NADA’s position will increase our oil dependence, cost Americans billions of dollars at the gas pump, and jeopardize 500,000 new jobs.  The proposed standards would cut America’s oil dependence by 1.5 million barrels per day – equal to what the U.S. currently imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq combined. They would save American consumers $50 billion in 2030 alone – even after paying for the cost of fuel-saving technology. And a recent report by CERES, an investor group, found that the proposed standards could create nearly 500,000 new jobs – both inside and outside the auto industry.

3. Auto dealers already sell vehicles meeting higher standards: The recent agreement extends successful standards that are already in place for model years 2012-2016. Unfortunately, NADA also opposed these standards. Despite NADA’s dire predictions, auto dealers across the country are now selling vehicles that comply with these standards. Dealers reported record profits and increased employment in 2010, with further gains expected in 2011.

It is hard to understand why NADA is out there on a limb fighting these new standards. Their opposition does the industry a disservice, would take away clean car choices for consumers, and would only deepen our dangerous dependence on oil. That’s a deal we should all refuse.